Ducking Into the 21st Century

The Duck Mill in Lawrence is an amazing mill that’s located between the Merrimack River and the North Canal in Lawrence, MA.  It’s about to begin a full renovation over the next year and a half, converting this beautiful old mill to a modern mixed-use facility.  Anytime one of these mills is rehabbed, I’m both happy and sad.  Happy for the city of Lawrence as these projects create jobs and revenue for the city.  Sad, because there’s now one less mill that represents the Lawrence of old – a city once at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

When I learned that the renovations at this historic property were about to begin, I contacted Bob Lussier, and then the mill owners.  They were kind enough to let us back in for a few final shoots before this building no longer has the old abandoned appeal that draws us to them.  It had been about 2 years since we were last there, and it was great to get back in with a sense of urgency to capture every last corner of this fantastic property.

I’m looking forward to getting back there one or two more times before construction gets too far along.  I’m also looking forward to the future where the Duck Mill will provide a new purpose in serving the city.

Indoor Puddle

It’s been a while since I posted a mill image, so today I give you the inside of the Duck Mill in Lawrence.  There were several puddles like this on the day we were there, and we were careful not to step too close to these areas while we were shooting.  I’m no expert, but I have to assume that standing water on 100+ year old wood floors isn’t the safest place to stand.  Just sayin’.

Duck Door

I couldn’t think of a creative name for this image of one of the doors at the Duck Mill, so I give you the Duck Door.

Anytime I shoot a mill for the first time, I seem to be drawn to the stairs and doors first.  This was true once again when Bob and I visited the Duck Mill this past winter.  Inside this building are four abandoned floors of stairways and old doors (and lots of other cool stuff) that gave me plenty of choices for things to photograph.  The Duck Door is one of my favorites.

Peeling Paint

Today’s image is from the Duck Mill in Lawrence.  In addition to the wonderful lines formed by the columns in this space, I was really drawn to the texture and color of the peeling paint both on the ceiling, as well as all over the floor.   The Duck Mill is one of the smaller mills in Lawrence, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with fantastic spaces to photograph.  While many of the neighboring mills in the area have been partially or fully refurbished over the years, all but one floor of the Duck remains raw and full of incredible things to shoot.

Fire Only

Every so often I find something in one of the mills that would be perfect if it were just in a different location.  Many times it’s a large object that can’t be moved, but when it’s something small like this, I’m not afraid to move it around to find a happy compositional home for it.

I found this bucket on another floor of the Duck Mill in the middle of a pile of junk, and thought it would look great standing on it’s own.  This empty space seemed like the perfect spot to give it a stage for it’s big debut, and it didn’t disappoint.

Have a great weekend.


Today’s image is another shot from the Duck Mill in Lawrence.  The problem I’m having with it is that each time I look at it, I either love it or hate it.  I can’t make up my mind, so I want you to help me.  What do you think of it?  Any and all criticisms are welcome, and I promise that no feelings will be harmed during the making of this blog post.   Thank you.

Stacked Windows II

With the Everett Mill it was the many stairways that captivated me.  With the Duck Mill, it’s definitely the windows.  As I mentioned in a previous post about this mill, I just love these giant old windows with their individual panes and solid wood construction.  As opposed to other areas in the mill where the windows were stacked together, these were lined up individually up against the many columns for the length of the floor.  I’m sure there’s a good reason for both methods, but I have no idea what they would be.  Anyway, this arrangement made for a really nice composition with the contrast of lines and patterns, and seemed perfect for a B&W conversion.

On a related note, I wanted to report that the April 6th Historic Mills Photo Workshop has reached capacity.  But fear not.  We will soon be announcing our second workshop coming later this spring.  Stay tuned!

Stacked Windows

Whenever I’m in the mills and see these beautiful old-school windows stacked up somewhere, I’m always hopeful that they’re just waiting to be refurbished to be used again when these spaces are repurposed.  Or at least sold to someone interested in preserving their charm.  Many of the spaces we now photograph, including their windows, will eventually be updated and used by new businesses and organizations.  And while I love the fact that they’ll soon be contributing to the revitalization of the local community, part of me feels saddened that one day they will no longer resemble their original state.  This is one of the things that drives my passion to photograph them… the ability to preserve their memory in my own little way.  That, and the fact that they also look really cool.

Red, White and Blue

While shooting the Duck Mill in Lawrence last weekend, I found myself breaking away from the more traditional views and seeking out opportunities for more detail shots of the various spaces.  I still grabbed plenty of wide angle shots of this expansive mill space with its large windows and endless columns, but for some reason I kept coming back to the more intimate scenes during this shoot.

This was one of the first images I captured that morning, and is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  I love the lines, the red, white and blue colors, and most notably, the reflection of the large wall of windows in this single window.  It’s recognizable for what it is, yet also somewhat abstract.  Or at least that’s how I see it.

Hello Dolly

A quick post today as I deal with a broken furnace on freezing cold day.  🙂

This is an image from a mill that Bob and I recently had the opportunity to photograph thanks to one of the many wonderful mill owners in Lawrence that is supporting our photo workshop efforts.  I just love finding pieces of equipment in these mills that help tell the story of the work that may have been done there in the past.  As I’ve mentioned probably many times before, the historical significance of these historic mills gets to me as much as the photography itself.

Also, be sure to check out our first of many blog posts from Bob on the Historic Mill Photo Workshop site!